CHANGE: is it truly possible for people?

In a story by Jamie Tworkowski called “Welcome To Midnight” he asked the questions, “…is it possible to change?
Is it really truly possible to leave the past behind…?

I’ve wrestled with these questions and their answers in many different ways and settings over the last 9 years of my life since I left prison. And I’ll probably still wrestle with them as the years progress. Because the past can never leave us like a mad lover, and change always tests the waters first (often longer than expected), before giving itself to us wholly.

But these questions has somewhat felt closer to me since December last year, first when my brother phoned me from prison…again, to bail him out. I sought wisdom from people with what to do, because it wouldn’t be the first nor the last time that I would help him from a mess he made. Also, it wouldn’t be the first time that he tells me he’s ready for change; that that was a wake-up call.

I would ask myself if it’s really, truly possible for someone to change?

I’ve seen it with friends in bad relationships. They keep hold out hope that their significant other can change, although deep down they know they never would.

My one friend phoned me from prison the other day, to let me know he’s been on good behaviour at the Maximum prison (which is almost impossible to be true), and that he actually might stand a chance to see the parole board a couple years earlier than expected. I was so excited. I already made future plans for the things I would want him to get involved in should he be released, but then he phoned again short after, to say he’s been put in solitary confinement again, for suspicious gang activities.

Again, is it really, truly possible for people to change?

Last week I had meetings with two young men, on two separate occasions. Both of them had been struggling with drug addiction for some time. Both of them “wants” to be off of it, or at least that’s what the people who brought them to me said. But I could see both of them weren’t ready yet. The one was high while we spoke (he thought I wouldn’t notice).

Again, is it truly possible for people to change?

I walked away from both of them, knowing that for as long as our change is driven by other people, it can never produce true transformation. I know, with my brother, no amount of motivational talking or helping hands will make him change.  It’s gotta come from deep inside of him.

Only then are we truly able to change.

Last week, 20 January to be exact I went to the police station to fetch my police clearance certificate. Listed on it was all the crimes I was sentenced for, as well as the date of my release 9 years ago.

I held that paper teary-eyed, and whispered to myself, “Indeed, it’s truly possible for people to change”.

Peace to you,

@IvorSwartz

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